Frequently Asked Questions

Summer Workshop for Young Writers at the Kelly Writers House

for rising high school juniors and seniors

July 5-15, 2021

Quick menu:
Eligibility & Application
Workshop Fee & Financial Assistance
The Workshop
Remote Status, 2021

Eligibility & Application

Who can apply for the Summer Workshop for Young Writers?

Any high school student who will be entering 11th or 12th grade in the Fall of 2021 can apply for admission to the Summer Workshop for Young Writers.

Can I apply if I am not a U.S. citizen?

You may apply if you are not a U.S. citizen and/or if you are not living in the United States. However, only U.S. citizens are eligible for financial aid.

How do I apply for the Summer Workshop for Young Writers?

You must complete our online application form and submit a personal statement, writing sample, high school transcript, and teacher recommendation. Refer to our application page for details.

When is the application due?

The application for the 2021 Summer Workshop is due March 7, 2021 at 11:59PM Eastern Standard Time.

How will I know that you received my application?

You will receive an automated response by email when the application is submitted. If you do not receive this response, email or call (877) 997-8807.

Can you accept a late application?

No. We cannot accept late applications.

How should my teacher submit my letter of recommendation?

You will enter your teacher's email address under “Confidential Letter of Recommendation or Evaluation” on the “Required Documents” section of the Interfolio application. This will then trigger an email to the recommender that will include a link through which he/she can upload the application letter.

How will I know that you received my letter of recommendation?

You will be able to see if a recommendation letter was received via your own Interfolio account. While the contents of the letter will remain confidential, the system will indicate if a file was uploaded by the recommender.

How do I make sure my teacher receives a request to upload a letter of recommendation?

We encourage you to confirm with your recommender that an email from Interfolio was received. You will also receive an email confirming that you requested a recommendation. If there are any issues with this, contact or call (877) 997-8807.

Who can write my letter of recommendation?

Any teacher or mentor who has taught you in an academic context, whether in school or in an extracurricular program can write your letter of recommendation. We strongly encourage you to ask a teacher who is knowledgeable about your passion for writing and literature to write your recommendation.

How do I submit my high school transcript?

You should upload an electronic version of your high school transcript to the Required Documents section of our Interfolio application.

If I cannot submit my transcript via Interfolio, can I have my school send the transcript separately?

We cannot accept paper transcripts. If this is a problem, please email

Should I send an official or unofficial copy of my transcript?

You may send either an official or unofficial copy of your transcript.

What should I include in my 300-word essay?

This essay is a chance for us to get to know who you are as a writer and thinker. Why do you want to spend 10 days in the middle of the summer writing? What will you bring to our community? Consider what we should know about you that isn't represented in other areas of your application. Be personal.

What kind of writing should be in my writing sample?

You should send 8 to 10 pages of writing that you feel best represents your ability and experience as a writer. If you have writing that is creative in nature – fiction, memoir, essay, poetry, etc. – that is best, but if your most polished writing is academic/critical in nature, you may send that as well. You may send excerpts from longer projects and/or multiple shorter pieces that add up to 8 to 10 pages as your sample, or one longer piece.

How are participants chosen for the Summer Workshop for Young Writers?

Participants for the Summer Workshop are chosen based on their potential as writers and their interest in being part of a student-centered, creative learning community. The strongest candidates are not necessarily those with the most experience, as we understand that not all passionate writers have been afforded the opportunity to study creative writing formally. We are looking for people who feel that they have a story to tell and who want to support their peers in their own literary endeavors. The best candidates will also demonstrate a strong work ethic and serious intellectual and creative ambition.

Is the Summer Workshop for Young Writers selective?

Yes. Given the intimate nature of the Summer Workshop, we expect that we will receive many more qualified applications than we have spaces available. We regret that we will not be able to accommodate every excellent writer who applies.

Will participating in the Summer Workshop for Young Writers increase my chances of getting into Penn?

There is no direct connection between acceptance to/participation in the Summer Workshop and Penn Admissions. We will offer an opportunity to visit the Office of Admissions for students interested in learning more about the University of Pennsylvania and we will keep in touch with participants who are considering applying to Penn.

When and how will I find out if I've been accepted?

Decisions will be sent by email by mid-April.

If I am accepted, can I defer my spot until next summer?

You may not defer your spot until next year. If you are unable to attend this year and are eligible for the program next year, you will need to reapply.

If I am put on the waitlist, when will I know if a spot is available for me?

We will let all waitlisted applicants know if a spot is available for them by the first week of June.

If I am not accepted, can I apply next year?

If you are currently a rising high school junior, you may apply again next year. If you are a rising senior, you may not apply next year, as you will be outside of our age range for eligibility.

If I am not accepted, can you give me feedback about why?

Unfortunately, due to the high volume of applications we receive, we are not able to give applicants individual feedback about why they were not accepted.

If I participate in the Summer Workshop for Young Writers, will my chances of being admitted to Penn increase?

Not necessarily. There is no direct connection between our program and Penn Admissions. That said, we at the Kelly Writers House will remain in touch with Summer Workshop participants who remain interested in applying to Penn. Additionally, we will provide an opportunity during the Summer Workshop for participants to attend an Admissions information session.

Can I receive college or high school credit for participation in the Summer Workshop?

No. This is not a credit-bearing program.

Workshop Fee & Financial Assistance

How much does the Summer Workshop for Young Writers cost?

The cost of the Summer Workshop for 2021 is $750. This is reduced from $2750, the cost of the in-person program.

What is included in the cost of the program?

The cost includes tuition and supplementary materials which will be mailed to participants.

What happens if I have to cancel my enrollment?

We urge students not to cancel enrollment unless there are truly extreme circumstances preventing their participation in the Summer Workshop. If a student must cancel enrollment before May 1, we can refund the student's deposit and additional payments. After May 1, we typically cannot refund deposits and other payments.

Who can receive financial assistance?

Any participant who is a U.S. citizen can receive financial assistance. We will notify accepted applicants of any financial assistance in their acceptance emails sent the first week of April. Our financial assistance is reserved for those students who cannot afford the cost of the program.

How do I apply for financial assistance?

To apply for financial assistance, indicate that you need financial assistance on our application’s Academic & Personal Information form and include a brief description of your family’s financial circumstances, and whether you are requesting a half- or full-tuition grant.

What kind of financial assistance is available?

A limited amount of funding to cover the full cost of the program fee ($750) or half the cost of the program fee ($375) is available.

Will applying for financial assistance lower my chances of being admitted?

No. All applications will be reviewed based on their intellectual and creative merit and potential. While we may not be able to provide financial assistance to all accepted applicants who apply for it, we will not deny any student admission to the program based on their need for financial assistance.

The Workshop

How is the workshop structured?

Students will spend the first half of each day in a personal essay writing workshopin a personal essay writing workshop led by Penn creative writing instructor Jamie-Lee Josselyn, who also serves as the Director of the Summer Workshop. Over the course of the workshop, students will read and critique one another's writing as part of the revision process.

Later in the day, craft sessions will be presented by guest lecturers in genres that may include poetry, fiction, screenwriting, experimental writing, comics writing, and more.

Here is a sample schedule for a typical day in the Summer Workshop:

  • 12:00 PM - 3:00 PM (Eastern time): Memoir Workshop
  • 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM: break
  • 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM: Craft sessions
  • What if I don't want to focus on creative nonfiction writing?

    While approximately half of all sessions will focus on creative nonfiction writing, you will have the opportunity to explore many genres during each day's craft sessions. That said, if you are truly uninterested in creative nonfiction writing, this program may not be the best fit.

    Will I receive grades?

    Participants will receive written and oral feedback from workshop leaders and peers but will not receive grades.

    Will I receive college or high school credit for participation in the Summer Workshop?

    No. This is not a credit-bearing program.

    Who will my teachers be?

    Memoir workshop will be taught by Program Director and Penn creative writing instructor, Jamie-Lee Josselyn. Craft sessions will be taught by visiting instructors who are affiliated with the Kelly Writers House and Penn's Creative Writing Program.

    Remote Status, 2021

    How will the Summer Workshop operate remotely?

    Just as in 2020, the 2021 Summer Workshop will operate remotely, primarily via Zoom, supplemented by emails and shared documents online. Participants will be responsible for securing their own laptop, desktop, or tablet as well as reliable internet access. We have been able to transfer our entire curriculum to the remote format. We consider our program to be at the equivalent level of an introductory undergraduate creative writing workshop.

    How much time each day should participants set aside for the 2021 Summer Workshop?

    Participants will be in Zoom sessions for approximately 6 hours each day, from 12 PM - 3 PM Eastern time and 4 PM - 7 PM Eastern time. They should expect to spend 1 to 3 hours each day on homework assignments. Several optional sessions will be offered during the remote Summer Workshop as well for the purpose of socializing (though we are mindful that Zoom Fatigue is real!). One weekend day in the middle of the program will be completely free of Zoom commitments. More specifics on the program’s schedule will be available as the start date draws near.

    Since the program is remote this year, will I get to know fellow participants?

    Yes! Because of the interactive nature of our coursework, along with supplemental sessions for socializing, the Summer Workshop will be a great way to get to know fellow writers personally and creatively. For more on this, take a look at this reflection by a 2020 Summer Workshop staffer and this blog post by a 2020 Summer Workshop participant.